BMW M4 CSL Coupe (G82) Drive Review : Buzz Light-Yeah! [COTY2022]
Singapore - What do you do on your milestone birthday? You know, the big four-oh, five-oh, six-oh and so on.
Long holiday? Mid-Life career switch? Sportscar?
Well, that’s exactly what BMW Motorsport has done: It dusted-off the legendary ‘CSL’ nameplate and created the M4 CSL sportscar on the occasion of its big 5-0 and it’s sharing this ‘joy’ with 1000 die-hard fans of the brand – because that’s just how many of these will be made.
If you’re a big BMW fan, you’ll know that the ‘CSL’ tag has only been used very sparingly (just twice!) since BMW Motorsport GmbH was formally incorporated in 1972 – the legendary E9 3.0 CSL motorsports homologation special in 1973 and the E46 M3 CSL in 2004.
There were several ‘hardcore’ ‘GTS’ models in-between, notably during the time of the E92 M3 and F82 M4 (2010 and 2016 respectively), but the ‘CSL’ moniker never made a re-appearance until 2022’s G82 M4.
As the only homologation CSL model, the E9 3.0 CSL was created for the rigours of motorsports competition, but the E46 M3 CSL was conceived as a lightweight track-day/fast-road warrior with tonnes of bespoke parts, a glorious high-revving soundtrack and agile chassis.
In the time of the E46, ‘CSL’ stood for Coupe Sport Leichtbau, or Coupe Sport Lightweight, but this has changed with the M4 CSL.
According to the press material, the ‘C’ now represents Competition, which we reckon is a nod to the M4 GT3 race-car from which it draws inspiration.
Our biggest M surprises to drive from 2022 were the M5 CS and now, this M4 CSL, touted as the most powerful road-going M3/M4 (to date!).
The M4 CSL may resemble the ‘Plain Vanilla’ M4 Competition Coupe, but gosh, some serious Dark Arts have gone into tweaking it under-the-skin so it’s nothing at all like its ‘base’ brother.
If you skipped to the tech box at the end, you’d already have noticed that the 650Nm torque figure remains unchanged from the M4 Competition, while horsepower sees a modest 40hp bump to 550hp, but the M4 CSL is far more than bragging about vital stats.
Remember the ‘L’ that stands for ‘Lightweight’ in the CSL name?
BMW isn’t messing around when it comes to shedding the extra kilos, because in the rear-drive M4 CSL’s ‘purest’ form, it sheds 100kilos from the M4 Competition Coupe, just like the E46 M3 CSL dropped 110kg from the standard M3 with the SMG transmission.
However, this particular car doesn’t have the superlight M carbon full bucket seats, which account for 24kg of the weight savings compared to the regular seats.
Instead, it has the M carbon bucket seats (15.5kg heavier than the M carbon full buckets), which are electronically-adjustable for greater convenience to the occupants and still provide ample lateral support.
Unlike the E46 CSL, this G82 CSL is a strict two-seater with the rear-seats ditched (no roll-cage like on the M3 GTS though) in place of a storage compartment for a pair of helmets.
There’s plenty of Alcantara and carbonfibre to create a sporting ambience, but it isn’t so OTT that it devolves into a parody.
There’s extensive use of composite carbonfibre on strategic body panels (bonnet, boot-lid and the unpainted aero addenda) and we like that it has a discreet ‘ducktail’ gurney-flap (for downforce) on its pert rump (like the E46 M3 CSL), instead of a GT-wing like the E92 and F82 GTS models.
If you’re at all familiar with BMW’s special performance models, you’ll know that there’s a lot of outtasite magic that goes on, erm, out of sight, because it’s far more about the go than the show.
The chassis tuning is bespoke to the M4 CSL, with lightweight components used in the Adaptive M suspension. It sits 8mm lower than the M4 Competition Coupe and features carbon-ceramic brakes for its maximum stopping force. The 19”/20” (front/rear) rims are shod in super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R rubber.
We really enjoyed the E46 M3 CSL because its agile dynamics and lightweight, visceral performance on the winding roads continue to be a benchmark today… at least to me that is.
It was never about big brute power alone, because the lithe, lightness of being that comes from a holistic weight-loss regime made it so engaging and entertaining to drive.
And the M4 CSL takes a page from great-grand-pappy’s book, because the emphasis is on emotional engagement for the driver, especially with the sound profile of its bespoke titanium exhaust and the reduced sound insulation to allow the occupants to 'feel' the sound.
A lot of the CSL’s magic comes from its sticky, feelsome tyres: The E46 CSL was shod in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup rubber and the latest evolution of the CSL wears the latest evolution of Michelin’s OG Pilot Sport Cup - the Sport Cup 2 R.
When you first unlock the M4 CSL, the hazards flash briefly before the motorsports-inspired yellow Laserlights wake up and fade into a glowering simmer as you clamber into the M carbon buckets.
Everything about the CSL is intended to rouse one’s fervour for all things fast and furious and this is emphatically underscored by an explosive thrum as the 3.0-litre inline6 stirs to life.
The Water Rabbit was clearly taking a break the day we took the CSL out, because we were blessed with good fortune to enjoy an afternoon window of dry roads and sunshine, the first of its kind in that wet-wet-wet week.
Needless to say, the Cup 2 R tyres require warming up to operational effectiveness and we take a drive up to MacRitchie Reservoir to ensure they’ll be sticky enough to cope with the CSL’s 550hp/650Nm.
Compared to the ‘regular’ M4, there’s a fabulous, supple feel and scalpel-sharp directness through the CSL’s steering that boggles the mind and some recalibration is in order.
The shifts from the 8spd auto are super-snappy and immediate and in the M2 pre-set, is perfect for big throttle shifts to hammer-in the cogs.
Pussyfoot around with a light throttle and it’ll buck you around like a wild bronco, because the CSL rewards big bold strokes when you’re driving.
The big boost hits hard (boost is upped on the CSL to 2.1bar over the M4 Comp's 1.7) and leaves you teary-eyed and breathless, especially with the CSL’s higher red-line, but it is how tautly the rear-driven coupe tackles the corners that really brings its predecessor to mind.
The car’s reflexes are fluid and feelsome from the tips of your fingers to the seat of your pants and it is light-footed enough to come across as almost darty, but you quickly get accustomed to this, especially when you’re really leaning on the tyres’ lateral limits of adhesion.
The ride isn’t overly firm, yet there’s plenty of body-control and adjustability from the chassis as to belie its 1.6-tonnes kerbweight. There’s a rock and raunchy flavour to the CSL’s rawness that makes the normal M4 seem plush and comfortable in contrast.
Critics bemoan the M4 CSL’s 400+kg surfeit over the E46 CSL, but times are different today and considering the safety/infotainment/size/electronics of the current car, it’s relatively lightweight by today’s standards.
In fact, with such synaptic incisiveness, the CSL shrinks around the driver when you’re pressing hard and it’s possible to take playful liberties with the car, simply because of how much communication is maintained between man (or woman) and the machine.
Going hard, you’re always on tip-toes to keep the CSL on its tippy-toes, dancing and diving, winding and weaving, bibbing and bobbing as your routine with this most perfect of partners leaves you buzzing with euphoria. To Infinity and Beyond!
PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals
BMW M4 CSL (G82)
Engine 2993cc, inline6, twin-turbo
Transmission 8spd M Steptronic auto
Top Speed 307km/h
Fuel Consumption 10.1l/100km